San Diego Nightlife

The San Diego nightlife scene is much more diverse and innovative than it was just a decade ago. Back then, options were limited to the pricey singles-heavy dance clubs downtown, the party-hearty atmosphere of Pacific Beach, and a handful of charmingly musty neighborhood dive bars popular with locals. Today options in San Diego have expanded dramatically, boasting more than 90 craft breweries throughout

the county, not to mention several stylish cocktail lounges.

The Gaslamp Quarter is still one of the most popular areas to go for a night on the town. Named for actual gaslights that once provided illumination along its once-seedy streets (it housed a number of gambling halls and brothels), the neighborhood bears only a trace of its debauched roots. Between the Gaslamp and nearby East Village, downtown San Diego mostly comprises chic nightclubs, tourist-heavy pubs, and a handful of live music venues. Even most of the hotels downtown have a street-level or rooftop bar—so plan on making it a late night if that’s where you intend to bunk. On weekends, parking can be tricky; most lots run about $20, and though there is metered parking (free after 6 pm and all day Sunday), motorists don’t give up those coveted spots so easily. Some restaurants and clubs offer valet, though that can get pricey.

Hillcrest is a popular area for LGBT nightlife and culture, whereas just a little bit east of Hillcrest, ever-expanding North Park features a diverse range of bars and lounges that cater to a twenty- and thirtysomething crowd, bolstering its reputation as the city’s hipster capital. Nearby Normal Heights is a slightly less pretentious alternative, though whichever of these neighborhoods strikes your fancy, a cab from downtown will run about the same price: $15

Nightlife along the beaches is more of a mixed bag. Where the scene in Pacific Beach might feel like every week is Spring Break, La Jolla veers toward being more cost-prohibitive. And although Point Loma is often seen as a sleeper neighborhood in terms of nightlife, it’s coming into its own with some select destinations.

If your drink involves caffeine and not alcohol, there's no shortage of coffeehouses in San Diego, and some of the better ones in Hillcrest and North Park stay open past midnight. Many of them also serve beer and wine, if the caffeine buzz isn’t enough.

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Old Town and Uptown 30


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Embarcadero 2

Gaslamp Quarter 21

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Point Loma and Coronado 6


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Northern San Diego 1


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Cafes–Nightlife 4

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Piano Bars/ Lounges 18

Wine Bars–Nightlife 1

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San Diego Nightlife

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Rumor has it that Wyatt Earp himself threw back a whiskey or two at the oldest bar in the Gaslamp, way before the walls were lined with...

Top of the Hyatt

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

This lounge at the Manchester Grand Hyatt crowns the tallest waterfront building in California, affording great views of San Diego Bay,...


  • Bars/Pubs

One of San Diego's favorite gathering spots for hop-heads is named in honor of the San Francisco beer bar of the same name. The beer...

Urban Mo's Bar and Grill

  • Bars/Pubs

Cowboys gather for line dancing and two-stepping on the wooden dance floor—but be forewarned, yee-hawers, it can get pretty wild on...

Vin de Syrah

  • Wine Bars–Nightlife

This "spirit and wine cellar" sends you down a rabbit hole (or at least down some stairs) to a whimsical spot straight out of Alice in...

Westgate Hotel Plaza Bar

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

The old-money surroundings, including leather-upholstered seats, marble tabletops, and a grand piano, supply one of the most elegant...

Whiskey Girl

  • Bars/Pubs

A major stop on the bachelorette party circuit sports a spiffy karaoke and photo booth, a Pop Art–inspired interior, and DJs spinning...

Whistle Stop Bar

  • Bars/Pubs

Here's a place to get your groove on to indie, electro, and hip-hop, plus live bands on Friday. This tiny-but-banging locals' favorite...


  • Music Clubs

This Ocean Beach rock club in a former bowling alley hosts local bands, reggae groups, and, occasionally, 1960s-style bands. The crowd,...


  • Bars/Pubs

This gigantic space can resemble either a raucous club or a sports bar, depending on what night you're there. But the drinks are strong...


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